Photographs of Fuat Husnu Kayacan show him dressed impeccably in an Ottoman tunic and fez, sporting a sharply waxed moustache, looking every bit a young man of the establishment. He attended a military school and his father was an admiral in the Ottoman navy. But Fuat Husnu was also a subversive, a criminal: an illicit footballer.
Association football was first brought to the Ottoman Empire in the 1870s by British merchants, travellers, and expatriates, who played the game in port cities such as Istanbul, Izmir, and Salonika. It was soon taken up by Ottoman minorities such as Armenians, Greeks, Italians, and Jews.
However, Muslims such as Fuat Husnu were effectively banned from playing the sport under the autocratic Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
Some Muslims believed that shorts violated Islamic morals, and some associated the sport with the killing of Husayn Ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, whose decapitated head was kicked around like a football. Others simply found running around after an inflated object to be preposterous and worthy of contempt.
But there was also an element of political fear among the Ottoman authorities during a time of repression: that football could be difficult to control. The sultan feared an uprising or a coup – he didn’t want people to come together, not even for the strange custom of chasing a ball around a muddy field.
Fuat Husnu managed to acquire a ball through British friends in Moda, Istanbul, and formed the first entirely Turkish-Muslim team – the Black Stockings – in 1901 "to smoke out those Greeks and Brits in the fields".
The Black Stockings trained in secret and then played their first match against a local Greek team on 8 November, 1901. The Black Stockings were beaten 5-1. Fuat Husnu scored their only goal.
Detectives ran onto the pitch after the match and detained most of the players. Fuat Husnu Kayacan was charged in a military court with "setting up goal posts, wearing the same uniforms as Greeks, and kicking balls around". But he was only given only a minor penalty - his family connections may have helped. The Black Stockings were forced to fold after a single match.
Fuat Husnu’s friend and Black Stockings teammate, the diplomat Resad Bey, was not so fortunate. In Turkish the word for 'ball' is 'top' – meaning 'cannonball'. 'Goal' is 'kale': 'castle'. Resad’s correspondence that mentioned firing a 'cannonball' into the 'castle' was intercepted with great suspicion by the paranoid Ottoman authorities.
He was subjected to a lengthy investigation. A football, a document on rules of the game, and his jersey and shorts were confiscated by the palace and examined by a special commission, which was eventually satisfied that Resad was not preparing some kind of rebellion. However, they still considered his behaviour to be somewhat troubling. Resad was promptly dispatched into exile, appointed as vice-consul in Tehran.
Yet, the growing Turkish passion for football could not be repressed for long. Fuat Husnu played for other teams, such as the British–Greek team ‘Cadi-Keuy’, under the pseudonym 'Bobby'.
Many great Turkish clubs were formed in the following few years, including the üç büyükler – the Istanbul 'big three' of Besiktas, Fenerbahce, and Galatasaray.
Ali Sami Yen was a Muslim student at the prestigious Galatasaray High School who had fallen in love with football. He formed a team in 1905 but declined to give it a name in order to avoid the fate of the Black Stockings, but they soon acquired a nickname: 'The Gentlemen of Galatasaray'.
"Our objective is to play football like the English, to have a colour and a name, and to overcome the non-Turkish teams" Ali Sami Yen declared. In 1905 they became the first mostly Muslim team to join the Constantinople Football League, although they fielded several foreign and minority players. In order to evade suspicions they were initially listed in the press as – the totally unsuspicious – 'AN Other'.
By 1905 Turkish nationalism had grown among the Ottoman elite, particularly among the 'Young Turks', which may have helped Galatasaray survive. Fenerbahce formed in 1907, but could not operate freely in the still repressive climate.
It took a coup to bring Turkish-Muslim football out into the open.
An uprising within the military in 1908, mostly of Young Turks, forced the sultan to cede powers and restore the more liberal 1876 constitution. The de-facto ban on Muslims playing football ended and football teams proliferated.
Fuat Husnu went on to play for Galatasaray and later coached their arch-rivals Fenerbahce.
As the popularity of football continued to grow, the authorities have always sought to use or control the sport – not least in the modern era.